What would you say if someone told you fast food doesn't necessarily have to be unhealthy... or even American? The moment I heard about LaPapa in Astoria, I threw on a hoodie and a baseball cap, and marched straight there to find out what was causing all the buzz.
A tiny little space with just a few tables, La Papa brings popular Turkish fast food to Astoria, Queens. Their signature item, as the name implies, is actually an enormous Idaho potato you can stuff with as many toppings as you like for $6 (and these spuds are absolutely gigantic!)
Known in Turkey as kumpir, these baked potatoes are first scooped and blended with butter and kasseri cheese, then re-stuffed to-order and topped with your choice of ingredients. I tried beets, artichoke hearts, olives, and corn. Definitely one of the best baked potatoes I have ever enjoyed (of course they offer traditional American toppings, such as bacon, chili, and sour cream). Want to cut back and make it even healthier? Just ask to leave out the butter and cheese, or substitute olive oil.
La Papa's jumbo Turkish hot dogs are tender beef franks cooked in tomato sauce, topped with Russian salad & a pickle, served on a warm hero roll. You can even have the wiener top your tater.
La Papa also serves up several panini options, including the one above with kasseri cheese and sujuk (dried and mildly spiced sausage slices, somewhat like hearty pepperoni). If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to try their Nutella and banana panini.
Be sure to grab a can of Uludag Gazoz, a popular Turkish citrus soft drink with a secret recipe only known by three people in the world. It was a little sweeter than a Sierra Mist, with maybe a hint of pear...? I'd be curious to hear readers' takes on it...
As the dining room is rather cozy and only holds a few customers, La Papa offers free delivery, with an $8 minimum order.